Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) aims to fund new gigabit-capable broadband networks for communities underserved by the private sector, as assessed by CDS following its public consultation process. Typically, these tend to be hard to reach communities, isolated homes and businesses in more sparsely populated rural areas.
CDS has awarded and/or will award procured contracts (the “CDS Contracts”) subsidising the construction of new full fibre or wireless networks to connect as many homes and businesses in these areas as funding will allow.
However, the broadband network marketplace is dynamic, and CDS may sometimes become aware that homes or businesses (“premises”) that are due to be connected under the CDS Contracts are now within the scope of another commercial operator’s network rollout plans. In such a situation, CDS may choose to consider, at its discretion, whether there is a case for those premises being removed (“de-scoped”) from a CDS Contract.
This case-by-case process document sets out in broad overview the general approach which CDS intends to take when considering whether or not to de-scope any particular premises from a CDS Contract.
The decision whether or not to de-scope any particular premises is a matter for CDS. This document is provided as an indicative guide to CDS’ intentions regarding its decision-making. It is not intended to be exhaustive; to be relied upon by third parties, or to give any rights to third parties; or as binding CDS to any particular procedure. CDS retains all its discretion, including (i) not to consider de-scoping in respect of any particular premises; (ii) to modify or depart from the process for de-scoping in respect of any particular premises, or more generally; and (iii) to determine that premises should or should not be de-scoped as it sees fit. CDS may also update this process from time to time as it sees fit.
The process of considering whether to de-scope an area is a complex and resource-intensive process. In assessing whether to progress any stage of the de-scoping process in relation to premises, CDS intends to balance the potential demands of that process on its resources against other project priorities. CDS will also consider relevant possible impacts, including on the community and the CDS Contracts.
Information about CDS suppliers’ network rollout plans, including published information about indicative timelines, can be found via the coverage checker.
Every case will be treated on its own merits. CDS only intends to de-scope premises if it is satisfied that there is a good case for de-scoping those premises. Any proposed de-scoping must also be approved by the Government’s Building Digital UK team (BDUK). The work involved is considerable and the flow chart below summarises the stages which are likely to make up the de-scoping process in any individual case. In general, CDS would not (except in very exceptional circumstances) intend to go through this process if it only became aware of new coverage plans after build work had begun under the CDS Contracts in respect of the area in question.
Summary of case-by-case approach to assessing emerged commercial coverage as part of the planning/design stages of CDS contracts
Confidentiality and publicity
Commercial operators should be aware that, while CDS will endeavour to keep confidential any information that is provided by operators in relation to their commercial network rollout plans, it will be necessary for CDS to disclose such information to BDUK, to the partners in the CDS programme, and to CDS’, BDUK’s and CDS partners’ respective employees, officers, contractors and advisers.
CDS may also need to disclose some of that information to its contracted suppliers in connection with the operation of the relevant contractual processes and/or the case-by-case process outlined above. While CDS will not expressly identify the relevant operator that provided the information in its communications with its contracted suppliers, CDS cannot be held responsible for any inference that may be drawn by any of its contracted suppliers as to the source/subject of the relevant information.
As explained above, CDS retains full discretion in relation to its consideration of any information that is provided by operators on their commercial network rollout plans. Operators should also be aware that, if CDS elects (at its sole discretion) to de-scope any premises from its contracts as a result of emerged commercial coverage from any operator, CDS expects that the relevant operator will provide clear, public commitments in relation to the scope and timescales for its commercial delivery, as well as a regular updates to and engagement with CDS and the relevant community on progress with delivery.